As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Naughty Step

I am a huge fan of The Super Nanny and if it wasn’t for her creative ways of handling temper tantrums and time outs, I have no idea what we would of done. Advice for everything you could think of and even the things you didn’t think of. I absolutely love her! One of my favourite little trademarks of hers is The Naughty Step. It’s a place that the child goes when they have been misbehaving or being unreasonable or frustrating, needs a time out, or whatever you consider to be ‘naughty’.

Now I know you’re thinking, how could my innocent, little, baby Bee ever know what a naughty step is… trust me, he’s not always cute and innocent. He throws a tantrum just like any other kid, especially if he doesn’t get his way. He screams, he kicks, he throws things, he pours things, he stomps, he does it all. He’s very aware of his feelings when it comes to emotions like excitement and anger.

We found that sometimes it’s hard to punish Bryce. You tend to think to yourself ‘Oh he’s just doing that cause he doesn’t understand’ but I really hate making excuses for things that he does. Having autism doesn’t mean it’s a get out of jail free card, but at the same time, you have to handle everything a lot more delicately. You can’t just say, ‘Go to your room cause you did this’ he’ll go to his room, but it doesn’t mean he knows why. Daniel and I tried that approach, but when it came to bedtime, and we sent him to his bedroom, he’d confuse that as punishment and would get upset and frustrated. He associated his bedroom as the place he goes when he is in trouble, so we had to find a different solution.

The Naughty Step Technique:

  • Bryce gets 1 warning when he misbehaves, and he is informed that the next time he does it he will sit on the step. He usually replies ‘No no no no’ in a whimpering voice, knowing what the step represents.
  • After the warning, if he misbehaves or needs a time out, we take him to the naughty step.
  • We designated the bottom stair on our stairs as the place to go when Bryce needs a time out, or is being punished. It is a very quiet place in the house facing a wall and a bathroom, so it’s not the most pleasant place to be.
  • We come down to his level and in a firm voice explain why he is there. We don’t go into huge details on the reason he is sitting on the stair, we make it very brief and as little interaction as possible.
  • We tell him how long he has to sit there. The Super Nanny recommends 1 minute per year (so 8 years old would be 8 minutes) however, we have always done 5 minutes.
  • If he leaves the naughty step at any point before the time is up, we bring him back to the step again, being very calm and not interactive. If he keeps getting up, we just sit him back down, and reset the timer until he’s sat there the whole time.
  • When the timer is up we go to him, get to his level, and again in a firm voice remind him why he was sitting on the naughty step and we ask him to apologize for what he did.
  • Bryce usually says ‘Sorry mommy’ or ‘Sorry daddy’ and we accept that. We then say ‘Thank you’ acknowledging his apology and then we hug so he knows we’re not evil parents and we do this because we love him. :)

A couple of key things that are important to know:

  • A firm voice is very important. If you’re laughing, or if your child hears you in your normal voice, they may not associate this as something different than every other day you talk. It needs to stay consistently firm.
  • If you do not have a stair to use as a naughty step, you can use any part of the house. Personally, I’d say stay away from corners. Designate a little area in your house strictly for the naughty step.

What about when I’m not at home, like at school or in public areas?

Hopefully you have a great supportive team at school, and you can discuss with the people who work with your child to implement the same techniques at school as you do at home. I’d recommend a quiet place where their would be limited distractions, not in a closet, or behind a closed door, but somewhere in the school where your child can be supervised like an empty classroom.

Everywhere you go in the public is now your giant naughty step. At that park you go to after school, or the grocery store you do your grocery shopping, you can designate a spot in each location and if your child needs to go there, you can bring them to the spot you thought of and they can have their time out there.

Now I am no Super Nanny, but have implemented this technique for a couple months and I find it has really decreased the amount of time out’s Bryce needs because he is not a fan of the stair at all.

Let me know if you use this technique, or tell me what techniques you use.

Thanks for reading,

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